King of Queens hive, stand up! Our time is now! Promo shots of actor/comedian Kevin James have taken over the Twitterverse, which has snowballed into memes referencing James’ most popular role as Doug Heffernan, the UPS driver with a heart of gold on the aughts-era CBS sitcom.
The wave of memes started here, with a Getty image (still watermarked, which makes it funnier), showing James, as Doug, standing in the middle of the kitchen set in a bashful, silly little mood. Kevin is giving off “my mans over there thinks you’re cute” vibes and the Internet is just eating it up. (It’s the same look I give when I pass a joint and someone asks, “who rolled this?” It’s a humble way of living and I wouldn’t have it any other way.) On one hand, there’s nothing deeper to read into the virality beyond Twitter loving to run a great picture and joke format into the ground in record time. But when it comes to James and especially King of Queens, it scratches a relatable itch that feels prevalent these days.
Real sitcom historians remember Queens as a classic Wife Guy show, with James as the archetypal hapless husband with a Regular Job (in this case, UPS driver) who just wants to clock out and watch the game, opposite Leah Remini as Carrie, the frustrated wife who’s a little out of his league. The show also featured Jerry Stiller as Carrie’s kooky dad Arthur, who lives with them, and was a launching pad for the likes of Patton Oswalt.
The series enjoyed a staggering nine-year run on CBS (1998-2007), but millennial cable watchers know it more as a peak late-afternoon hours syndication classic. “My eyes are gettin’ weary, my back is gettin’ tight”—my TBS and TV Land heads, come on, sing it with me! That 4-6pm rerun block, complete with the Everybody Loves Raymond pairing, made me into a King of Queens aficionado (the shows took place in the same “universe” and often featured crossover appearances). Pour one out for the lost art of channel surfing and landing on a great episode of your favorite sitcom, which cord-cutting has basically neutralized.
King of Queens didn’t have an air of high-brow like Seinfeld, or feel tailor-made for the so-called “coastal elite” TV audience—it’s set in outer-borough New York City, after all. The everyday man can relate to Big Heff, especially now with UPS drivers making six figures a year. But what’s most important: King of Queens was, quite often, laugh-out-loud funny. James got to do a lot of the broad comedy (that he’d later go even broader with in the Sandler Cinematic Universe) but Remini held her weight—despite Doug’s bullshit, she was a petty hater in her own right and always out to get revenge.